There is a change in the air, and it is a much-needed change. According to CNN Money, the millennial and Gen Z generations are the most diverse in history. Only 56% of millennials are white, while the baby boomer generation had a whopping 72%.
Now is the time to embrace diversity and start making those goals clear to your workforce. This is the time to get leadership on board with inclusion and diversity since 67% of job seekers currently consider workplace diversity an essential factor when looking at opportunities (Glassdoor). If you want to attract the top (diverse) talent, then consider implementing some, or all, of the goals below. And remember, it’s not the numbers that matter – it’s the culture you build and the improved results you drive that make the biggest difference. Here are some tips for getting started.
To put your company in the right mindset to get off to a good start, it is important to recognize the difference between diversity and inclusion. Diversity in the workplace refers to a company made up of employees, suppliers, and leaders from all different walks of life. This includes age, cultural backgrounds, geographies, physical abilities, disabilities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. These categories are constantly evolving.
Inclusion in the workplace is the achievement of treating all individuals fairly and with respect. Inclusion means a company has a culture where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued. It also means that everyone has equal access to opportunities, resources, and involvement. True inclusion takes a lot of actual work to ensure all opportunities are afforded to all employees.
To put it simply, diversity is what your company’s ecosystem is comprised of. It is quantifiable, focusing on the composition. Inclusion is about how things work within that ecosystem. It is the cultivation of the work environment that allows all employees to thrive.
First, you want to make your goals/intentions clear and measurable. Take the time to diagnose why there is a lack of diversity in your company and look to change that.
This conversation may be uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step to be fully committed to making your company a more inclusive workplace. Remember, this change is not going to happen overnight.
Ask how you can get more women and people of color into leadership roles. Can you look for more suppliers that are owned by women or minorities?
Don’t get caught up in the numbers, and let that steer you away from more meaningful goals. Most companies focus on the numbers of new diversity hires, pledge to get more women in leadership roles or promise to fill X% of open positions with minority candidates. Having number-specific goals can result in hires appearing to be made only to fill that quota, which doesn’t help anyone.
Look beyond the numbers and invest in unconscious bias training for all leadership/manager positions and HR (Human Resources). Take the time to write new inclusive job descriptions to attract more diverse candidates or commit to reducing any pay disparities. These goals are obtainable and meaningful and will have an impact worth far more than you will spend.
Another way to build diversity is to identify people who have the leadership potential and who think differently, then invest in them. You can use Omnia’s Behavioral assessment with current employees among your diverse team to uncover who has natural leadership traits and use Omnia’s Employee Development Strategy to get them on a path to advance in the company.
When it comes to setting goals at your company, who is in charge? In most companies, it is the C-Suite. Take this opportunity to go beyond the executives and include a larger group. Take the time to invite some of your already diverse workforce into the conversation - involve them and ask them for their input on building company strategies to become more inclusive. Listen and implement what is possible.
Involve people from all levels and of all backgrounds in these conversations. Ask your employees by a survey, town halls, or working sessions:
Sundar Pichai, an Indian American business executive, said, “A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”
So, don’t just be diverse and inclusive only to be recognized for it or to keep up with other companies just because “they’re doing it too.” Companies with a more diverse leadership team report higher innovation revenue -- up to 45% of total revenue vs. a measly 26% according to a 2018 BCG report.
Another study done by Gartner predicts that by 2022, 75% of companies that have diverse and inclusive decision-making teams will not only meet but exceed their financial goals. This study also reported that gender-diverse and inclusive teams will have outperformed their less-than-inclusive counterparts by 50%.
As you set about your path to build diversity and inclusion, capture your baseline productivity metrics, and celebrate the synergies, you see achieved as the culture expands. Those quantifiable stats will mean much more than any numeric diversity goals you set out to achieve.
If you are reviewing your current teams and don’t have the inclusion you’re looking for, bringing in a new employee who is the right fit while also aligned with your goals is an excellent way to get the ball rolling. You don’t want to hire people from diverse backgrounds just for the numbers. It’s critical to get the right people who can do the job and to not form biases before given the opportunity to apply and demonstrate their capability. This is where Omnia’s Profile comes in. Validated by two independent studies, the profile was found to be free of any form of gender, race, or age bias.
The road ahead may be a long one if you’re just starting. The timing couldn’t be better to get going. Reassure your company of your commitment to embark on this journey. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” Be a part of this change.